Universal Background Check Bill Not Quite Victory Dems Hoped For

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Right now, gun control advocates are basking in the thrill of their victory. Honestly, I can’t say that I blame them. I would be too, were I in their shoes.


But Democrats aren’t quite synonymous with gun control activists. While the Venn diagram of the two groups tends to find gun control activists completely engulfed in the Democratic Party, the Democrats are far from a one-issue party.

Right now, Democrats are seething. It seems the passage of their universal background check bill wasn’t quite the victory they were hoping for, at least not after Republicans attached an amendment at the last minute.

House Democrats scored a huge legislative victory Wednesday by passing a long-sought gun reform bill — but not without an embarrassing setback.

Just moments before the bill to require universal background checks was approved, Republicans were able to peel off more than two dozen Democrats to push through an amendment promoting the deportation of immigrants without legal status.

The addition — requiring Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to be notified when such an immigrant tries to buy a gun — marked a stunning victory for GOP leaders that left Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her leadership team sniping over who was to blame for their party’s failure to unite in opposition.

The Republicans’ surprise amendment will likely have no practical implications, since the GOP-controlled Senate is unlikely to consider the gun reform legislation in any form.

But the Republicans’ success in advancing their immigration enforcement provision — using a procedural move called a “motion to recommit,” or MTR, that almost always fails along party lines — was an embarrassing moment for Democratic leaders less than two months after they seized the lower chamber, leading to visible tensions among the top brass on the floor.


Honestly, the amendment was something that should have been relatively non-controversial. After all, illegal immigrants aren’t here legally. They’ve already broken one law just by entering the country. Further, if the goal is to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, shouldn’t the authorities be notified when such a criminal tries to buy a gun?

This could have been an easy gimme for the Democrats, an olive branch to get more Republicans on board with the idea of universal background checks.

Instead, they not only didn’t, but the progressive media is referring to the amendment as “racist.”

It should be noted that the amendment doesn’t specify country of origin. It applies just as equally to an illegal immigrant from Norway as it does to one for Guatemala.

Of course, the hits were far from over as the Democrats began the post-vote squabble.

Pelosi approached Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) with the suggestion that the loss of 26 Democrats on what is typically an easy party-line vote was his responsibility. The confrontation, which took place before a group of members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), angered members of the group, of which Clyburn is a long-standing part.

Democrats made a point of introducing the legislation only a few days into their new majority last month. Wednesday’s vote was supposed to show how far Democrats had come since they commandeered the House floor from the GOP in 2016 with a daylong sit-in to protest inaction after the shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla.

Instead, Republicans now in the minority found a way to rattle Democrats with House floor mischief of their own.


This, of course, is significant. In part because now Democrats have to account for the Republican minority. They’ve shown they can get at least some Democrats to cross the aisle on amendments, which suggests they can play merry havoc on future legislation.

It should serve as a warning to Pelosi and company that just because they have the majority doesn’t mean they get to run roughshod over House Republicans.

The question then becomes, will she listen?

Regardless, as The Hill notes above, there’s little chance of this mattering all that much because it’s unlikely the Senate will pass the bill. Still, this warms my heart just the same.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member